Friday, March 25, 2011

9 More Pianists Play the Chopin Butterfly Etude

A while ago, I mentioned a video of 7 historic performances of the Chopin Butterfly Etude in chronological order. Via @intrepidimages, here are 9 more performances of the Chopin Etude Opus 25 #9 by the following pianists:

1. Vladimir Ashkenazy
2. Wilhelm Backhaus
3. Idil Biret
4. Vladimir Horowitz
5. Not sure - any guesses? (Update: Phillipe Cassard - thanks Anonymous!)
6. Murray Perahia
7. Maurizio Pollini
8. Leonard Bernstein
9. Grigorij Sokolov


  1. Ashkenazy -- lovely, perhaps a bit stiff.
    Backhaus -- nice flair, maybe too crazy
    Biret -- wow, too plodding. makes the etude truly sound like an *exercise*
    Horowitz -- ooh, lovely shading right from the start, sparkling tone
    unknown -- not bad, just a bit note-y
    Perahia -- lush, thick rather than light and sparkly, a definite contrast with the others
    Pollini -- light, but too homogenous
    Bernstein -- also nice and light, maybe a bit too non-homogenous
    Sokolov -- sparkly! expressive surprises without sounding random.

    Okay, no surprise that Horowitz is one of my favourites, and I like Perahia's different interpretation as well (although I'm not convinced of its, um, authenticity, I have to confess I like it. Chopin as Brahms. Heh.) But I've never heard of Sokolov, what rock have I been hiding under? I think that one wins!!

  2. Anonymous6:35 PM

    2. Wilhelm Backhaus :)
    Thank you!

  3. Anonymous10:47 PM

    5 = Philippe Cassard (with his teacher Nikita Magaloff)

  4. Very interesting article. I like the blog too.

  5. Anonymous5:53 PM

    Sokolov above all!!!

  6. This compilation is (almost) inspiring me to get back into practising the old classic. Thanks for posting it!

    Unfortunately, the Butterfly Etude is annoying in that I need at least 30-45 minutes warmup before even vaguely approaching acceptable fluency in the right hand... mostly due to a stubborn repeating thumb. And then left-hand accuracy is a separate thing. Sigh!

  7. Such are the challenges of the Chopin etudes...

  8. Nowadays, we all know who was Chopin's and admire his music, but a big question arises all the time.And nice video!

    Chopin Etudes